Child Protection Framework
- Protecting the safety and emotional, physical and spiritual development of children is an overriding priority for our life and mission in the Sword of the Spirit.
- Accordingly, every Underway B and Full Member community in the Sword of the Spirit must have a Child Protection Policy (CPP) in place and functioning. These policies must meet the legal and social requirements of the country where the community is located as well as local church practice.
- In all these matters, our primary concern will be for the well-being of our children and youth and to ensure that justice is done.
- The CPP’s shall cover all children and youth involved in community activities up to the age of legal majority in the country where the community is located. This includes any non-member guests. That is, both children from families in the community as well as all children involved in community programs or events will be covered by the CPP.
- The CPP’s shall cover both our formal programs as well as more informal one-on-one contacts that may occur (e.g. one-on-one youth worker contacts). Some provisions also apply to handling issues that may arise within families or other settings.
- The CPP’s can employ different policies and approaches to different ages of children and youth.
- Regions will be responsible to develop regional CPP’s for regional youth work.
Each CPP is recommended to include provisions to cover the following matters:
- A vetting process to ensure those who work with our children and youth are suitable. (This may include background checks and mandatory membership time before working with our children and youth (e.g. a member for at least 12 months))
- Provisions for supervision which do not allow adults to be alone with children or youth in the normal conduct of activities and programs. (This is commonly referred to as the ‘two adult rule’ and requires 2 adults to normally be present in any programs involving children, especially at overnight activities, activities in homes, closed classrooms or other private locations.)
- Provisions for youth not being allowed to teach/care for children alone without a supervising adult present.
- Limitations on physical discipline to be used in the care of children and youth. (Normally this would be stated as ‘no physical discipline may be used by those working with our children and youth’.)
- Clarity on appropriate expressions of affection and touching for those working with our children and youth. This especially should cover any physical contact of a sexual nature or which could be interpreted as of a sexual nature. (This will vary across the cultural realities of the Sword of the Spirit but should be considered and described to prevent inappropriate physical contact.)
Protocols for communicating with parents about programs for children and youth, especially when transportation or overnight activities are involved.
- Community leadership will ensure that all those who are working with children and youth will receive training in the community’s CPP.
- The frequency of training or review of training will not be less than annual.
- Training for community coordinators and senior women leaders will include mandatory training in the CPP and the communication and escalation protocols (see below).
- Understanding the rationale and purpose of child protection will be included in the leadership formation program of the Sword of the Spirit.
- Each CPP will include mechanisms for communication and escalation that meet the legal requirements of the country where the community is located. These mechanisms must include informing the relevant legal authorities where applicable.
- Additionally, for any case of suspected abuse of children or youth within the community whether in a program/activity or in a family or other setting, both the outside coordinator for the community and the regional president must be notified of the concern and engaged in the process of dealing with the concern. Commentary: this provision is to ensure that local communities are not left to their own resources in dealing with matters of this nature. This is both a protection and a provision in that many of our communities may not have adequate expertise to deal with the issue and care well for all involved. It also provides for communication across communities in those situations where youth workers or families move between communities.
- Furthermore it is strongly recommended that the appropriate women leaders be engaged in the pastoral process of dealing with any case of suspected abuse from the beginning.
- The coordinators of each community are ultimately responsible to ensure the CPP is in place and functioning in their community.
- The regional president is responsible to ensure that each community in his region has a CPP in place and he will also be responsible to ensure that there is a policy in place in the region for handling any cases of abuse. He may assign a Child Protection Officer for the region to help him with these duties but he retains the responsibility. He may also identify regional subject matter experts to help him and may recruit other leaders to help in matters of judgment as appropriate.
- The international president is responsible to ensure that the International Child Protection Framework is in place in all regions and will also serve as the final authority in any matters of concern or where a judgment is required. He can engage outside experts and counsel as required.
- Development of a CPP shall be incorporated into the community building process for new communities in the process of formation. The CPP must be completed and demonstrated to be well-functioning for a community to become a formed (Underway B) member of the Sword of the Spirit.